Saturday, February 25, 2012

Forty-six days...

I have been gone from Arkansas a little over six weeks now and there are sixty-eight more days left here to explore Scotland and the rest of the U.K.. There is a birthday to celebrate, an exhibition of my own to have, and an important opening of Stewart's to attend. There are people to see and meet and further places to travel and visit. There are things to figure out and goals to create for the next phase of my life when I return home.

I must admit, I feel unsettled, a bit restless and a bit nervous. Discombobulated. This is understandable but it doesn't make it comfortable. I have not produced a full fledged body of work in a while. Yes, I just had a twenty-two piece show of all new work in September and I have produced thirty-seven small works on paper since then, but I miss having a bigger concept and making bigger paintings.

I don't have a studio currently and I think that is another reason I am discombobulated. I have boxes of supplies to return to in my attic, which will require attention before I can resume painting again. I am very sad about the loss of my studio at the Fayetteville Underground. I am very depressed about the loss of the Fayetteville Underground and how it was handled. I know I am 4,000 miles away and I am having a grand adventure but it doesn't change the fact that I and many others were screwed out of a good thing. I know life is about change and losing my studio and even the way it happened probably enabled me to get on a plane and get the hell out of Dodge more easily but it still doesn't make it okay.

I feel like I lost my community of artists and the larger platform to interact with the public and connect with other artists on a larger worldly scale. I know I can rebuild these things whether in Fayetteville or somewhere else, but it won't be easy or the same. As an artist I am trained to make something out of nothing, and I will have to do this once I land somewhere more permanently. It should be viewed as a creative challenge and nothing more. A reason to rise again and I will. Again, it doesn't mean I have forgotten what we built and gave to the city of Fayetteville and the greater community and how it was carelessly handled and tossed aside.

I will return to Arkansas in May and I will look for an affordable or sponsored studio space so that Stewart Bremner and I can create our new body of combined paintings for our exhibition in July at the Art Center of the Ozarks. It is going to be chaotic getting back into the swing of things, but I have to believe we will both be ready to rise to the challenge.

In the meantime I must focus on our upcoming exhibitions.

"I thought I would find you here" works by Megan Chapman and Stewart Bremner March 1st – April 30th, Peterson Auditorium, NorthWest Arkansas Community College,Bentonville.

"From Across the Ocean" new works by Megan Chapman opens March 6th and remains on display throughout the month. Only at Embo on Leith Walk. Edinburgh, Scotland.

I'll leave you with some of my recent thoughts about why I do what I do.  From my journal...

"I do it to create something new and unique on some level. I do it so I can create a physical object out of thoughts, dreams, atmospheres and beats from music. I do it to share with people. I need connection, I need to move people as well as move myself. Making art makes me feel human, it connects me with all the other artists that have come before and that will come after. It gives me a place in society to belong. It gives me a world to understand and a place to give from, a place to inspire and grow. I do it because it is in my blood to tell stories and entertain. I also do it for my patrons and collectors, for my own personal fulfillment and for my own self worth. I do it to show other artists it can be done, to help encourage and inspire. I do it because it is a huge part of my identity..." 

Until next week, keep fighting. The world needs your art and I need to be inspired by you.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Outside the velvet ropes, I see clearly.


This week I saw more art. I visited the City Art Centre and The Fruitmarket gallery. The City Art Centre had a selection of works, comprised of some modern art and many historical paintings and drawing of places in Edinburgh. It is a nice art centre and it is housed in a beautiful building. I am looking forward to going back to see future exhibitions.

At the Fruitmarket I saw the works of Anna Barriball. I was excited to visit the Fruitmarket gallery as from outside the glass windows it is an impressive open space that would seem to have works that would appeal to me. As I walked inside I was instantly deflated. This was going to be one of "those" exhibitions. I consider myself an open minded individual, I know the modern art of yesterday is pushed into something new today and that change is needed and required in the art world to keep things fresh and new. But what I saw angered me. Yes, this art angered me. How can that be? I felt my body tense, with my arms crossed, I walked through from one piece to the next hoping to feel something, hoping to understand, hoping to get plugged in to the "concepts" on the wall before me. It didn't happen. The Fruitmarket gallery is a beautiful space, currently filled with art but remaining hollow. It is not so much the art itself that angered me it is what this kind of art does to the viewers that see it. Or maybe more importantly it is what this work doesn't do to the viewers.

If I was a first time art viewer and happened on Anna Barriball's graphite rubbings of doors and walls, copper pipes made of paper, obsessive pencil marks on the wall and her breathing fire place, I would think I had stepped into a heartless world devoid of feeling and meaning. It would leave me cold. And if I was encouraged to pick up a pamphlet explaining her exhibition and I actually read it, I would scratch my head wondering what the hell I just saw and how could these flowery words mean anything. However, as a first time viewer I would most likely stay quiet, perhaps feeling that I just didn't get it, that maybe I was too simple, or more likely that this art is not meant for me. I would feel like I accidentally was allowed in the velvet ropes only to be thrown out on my ass when I confessed I didn't know why this art was important enough to take up this entire gallery space, when many pieces of important and accessible art are just across the road packed like sardines this month at the Royal Scottish Academy.

As a first time art viewer of Barriball's work, I would probably make some quick assumptions about the art world. I would assume the art world is for pseudo intellectuals, elitist, and other artists of this ilk. Feeling defeated I might not go into another gallery for awhile or I might even write off modern art.

Back to being who I am, not a first time art viewer and someone who has seen enough art and talked with enough art lovers, buyers and gallery owners, I know it doesn't have to be this way. I am not an anti intellectual and I have read enough of art theory and rhetoric to know when I am being snowed and when the words are shallow and do nothing to serve the work or the viewer. The basic fact is it is hard to write about nothing and if the art isn't there, it just isn't.

I may be an idealist but I believe in art for all. I believe in art as an inclusive force that can be pivotal in connecting people together, giving voice to the unseen and unvoiced emotions and the thoughts of the many, not just the few. Art that can be a thing of beauty creating the perfect shape and form or capturing a moment of passion, sadness, and despair. I believe in that art, I seek that art. I want to belong to and share that art. I am not a member of this other world that seeks to confuse, divide, and poke fun at the uninitiated.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The lovely unexpected things...


Guess what? I saw art again this week and a lot of it! I know you are shocked. Truly this wasn't my plan for the week at all but is hard to escape all the art and as a tourist and artist where else am I going to spend my time but in galleries... So let's get started!

First, we returned to the Royal Scottish Academy gallery this time for the 2012 Visual Arts Scotland Annual Open Exhibition of visual and applied arts. It was a massive and impressive exhibition, some of the most vital and exciting art I have seen yet in this city was featured in the beautiful galleries. According to the Visual Arts Scotland website, "over 850 submissions had to be pared down to just 280." Well, I liked a lot of what I saw of the selected 280. In particular, I was quite taken with the work of Paul Charlton. All three of his pieces in the exhibition were sold within a day of the show opening. When I looked online to learn more about this artist, sadly Mr. Charlton didn't have much a of web presence for his art. Click here for an example.

Also showing at the RSA were the Royal Society of Watercolourists and The Scottish Society of Artists.  Both shows were packed with more impressive works, however The Scottish Society of Artists exhibition was a bit more my cup of tea. I would name more individual artists that moved me, but I wasn't equipped with pen and paper upon viewing.

We happened to catch these exhibitions on a Sunday afternoon after viewing another art form, the short film. We met up with some more blippers for the big screen debut of Scotland the World Over. It was fun to be around a lot of other blippers, hear some Scottish music and just be outside.

There was also a visit to the National Portrait Gallery this week. It is a beautiful and newly renovated gallery space. I will have to spend some more time there. There were several modern Scottish painters represented and one piece that I found captivating was, Three Oncologists by Ken Currie. This large dark piece is ghostly, gripping, and memorable. 

Other art that was viewed this week was the latest exhibition, Poetic Licence at Union Gallery. It is an eclectic mix of art by artists whose work has been influenced by poetry. It is always lovely to stop in to Union gallery for the atmosphere, creaky floor boards and a quick hello with the friendly owners of the space.

In other events of the week, there was a solo excursion walk through town and back up to Calton Hill which was the first place I went went I arrived, it is a lovely overlook and provides beautiful views and monuments. I enjoyed taking photographs.

Charity shops were wandered in and out of on the quest for the teapot, which I found! And some art was even purchased this week! Two lovely ceramic pieces by Lara Scobie were scored from a surprise visit to The Adam Pottery. A place I had just read about online last week when trying to find some contemporary ceramics. It was a lovely studio/workshop/gallery. The folks were friendly and we can't be more pleased with our new art!

The week concluded with a beautiful visit to the Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh. It was just lovely to walk among the tall trees and to hear the birds sing. The highlight for me was seeing the glass house that housed the palms. This glass house seemed to warrant at least on hundred fairy tales and more than a few dreams...

Until next week, you know what to do.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Detours caused by teapots

This week I took a bit of a break from all the galleries and museum type places. I decided that so much of what I was seeing was just rushing past me, that I wasn't absorbing or allowing the art to impact me. However, I still walked all over this lovely city again this week and I did stop into a few small art galleries and boutique art shops. I was on a quest for a tea pot, but there is always a little time for art...

The first place I visited this week was a print shop gallery, Edinburgh Printmakers. I liked the way things looked in the window and I fancied getting myself a small piece of souvenir art to mark my journey. As we entered the small shop, the old door loudly rattled shut behind us, but that did not cause the attendant to look up or greet us. I walked through the shop and browsed the beautiful prints they had for sale but the one I liked by John Heywood sadly had no price and the gallery attendant still hadn't acknowledged our being only five feet away from her at any point. I decided not to hassle her and did not purchase work from the shop.

Upstairs at this same gallery was an exhibition by one of the artists that I mentioned last week, Kirsty Whiten. If you recall, she did a piece called "prayer monkey" that I was taken with. In this new solo exhibition, Breeder Badlands, the artist portrays her friends naked with their children. Mothers with babies and complete family units naked, napping, and protecting the clan. Rendered as obviously modern people but in either isolated color field backgrounds or with painted prehistoric or a jungle-like theme behind them, the exhibition of original paintings and hand made prints was an interesting take on the psychology of family and our place in the world, and the familial instincts carried over from our ancestors. It was one of the most put together and well executed exhibitions I have seen in this city yet. It fit the gallery perfectly and was a captivating exhibition.

The next notable gallery I stopped in this week is The Red Door Gallery. It is a small cute shop filled with art, hip crafts, and has a distinct flavor. This little shop made me feel the hope of Spring. It is that kind of place, well designed with funky prints, pillows, tea towels, cards and other ephemera of the day tastefully flooding the little light filled shop. The place makes me want to live in a little apartment with just the right things, such as an owl pillow, some framed cassette prints, even my coin purse would be cute in this world. The Red Door Gallery is like the best of Esty but in the flesh. I am sure I will return. I was also pleased to see one of my favorite etsy artists, Olivia Jeffries prints available for sale.

So, those were the two most notable stops this week; there were other shops, design studios, magnificent buildings and views this week too, of course. There was some great curry had and another nice meet up with some other members of the blipfoto community as well. It was a good week.

Also this week, I created ten more original small works on paper and restocked my etsy shop again. All the small pieces I made last week sold! I am so grateful as my small affordable works are supporting me currently while I am away. If you haven't checked out my etsy shop since last week please do and consider buying a small work for yourself or a friend or sharing my work with your friends. I really appreciate every one's support. Thank you!

Until next week, keep fighting. I have a city to explore and more art to make and a teapot to find!